While doing research for my current novel, Googleland somehow channelled me to the page for the movie Gabriel with Andy Whitfield (beware the search term Asmodeus ... you will go many places, none of them good). The conflicting reviews intrigued me, as conflicting reviews always do, and I decided I'd like to see it just to make up my own mind.
I figured I'd have to order it and promptly forgot about the movie until yesterday when I searched the racks for Priest. Lo and behold but what did my wandering gaze find but a single copy of Gabriel sitting on the top shelf! I snatched it and decided we would watch this one first and Priest later.
It was a gritty, dark fantasy, the kind I like to read and write. In Gabriel, each of the Fallen have a particular vice they encourage. Lilith runs a nightclub where drug use is rampant, Ahriman supplies the drugs that Lilith's clients use, and Asmodeus runs the whorehouse. Asmodeus was my favorite of the Fallen. With the use of surgery, he tries to give a woman a replica of his face. The insight this gives the viewer into Asmodeus is tremendous. His vanity and desire to create someone in his image is evident in that one scene; he has succumbed to the very lust that he promotes to make a mirror of himself in someone else's face.
Like the Fallen, Gabriel finds himself succumbing to his desire for revenge and his own rage. The negative emotions he thought he could easily defeat with love are roused and inflamed because of his love for the other angels who were murdered. His hate and fury overwhelm him until he loses control of himself and pounds Asmodeus's face to a pulp. Even unto the end, Asmodeus was effective, because he turned Gabriel's very strength against him.
It's horror, but not the kind of horror the Jason-Freddy-Chainsaw Massacre crowd craves. This is a more insidious kind of horror, the kind that can maim a life and take years to kill; the kind that destroys first the mind and soul, then the body.
Too many writers think of horror or dark fantasy as a string of gory murders, which to me is just a turn-off. Any moron with an ax or gun can kill--it takes real creative genius to lead others astray and into their own doom. I think that was the thing I liked about Gabriel; the seductiveness of evil, how it can be so attractive to us even when we know better.
Don't expect Academy Award winning performances in Gabriel, but it was an interesting movie to watch, especially if you're like me and enjoy characterization over body-counts.